Interview with Silk Denim

REFASH: How was Silk Denim born? Tell us a little about the brand.

Sarah Silk: SilkDenim was born out of a desire to make a cooler reusable grocery bag. The result of which made us so happy that we thought about how we could round out this process into more kinds of items - clothing, quilts, other bags, all products we'd like to use ourselves. At the time, I, Sarah had just moved back to Pittsburgh, and we were on such a roll after making Sarah's dress and the Oh Yoko Coat (featured below), that we decided to make a collection and put it on a website. Collection 1 is on our website

R: What is it like working as a mother-daughter duo? 

SS: It's a great reason to be together and encourage each other's development. We both bring different skills to the business and end up with a synergy of talents. 

R: What is your design process at Silk Denim? 

SS: Sometimes we start with a desire for a kind of item (like the reusable heavy duty / versatile / cool grocery bag birthed the denim totes), and other times we're inspired by a client's commission. Much work goes into deconstructing the jeans and figuring out how we want to reuse the fabric. We remake & refine the item many times until we have a finished product that works for us. We also test the product by using it ourselves to make sure it's practical. 

R: What has been your most interesting upcycled piece? 

SS: We just did a Flag Quilt for the Moxy Hotel in Washington DC which is pretty great. Our other favourites are the Oh Yoko Coat and the Silkea Bag (featured below).

R: How many pieces have you upcycled till now? 

SS: Hundreds, maybe over a thousand. Not sure.

R: Being an entrepreneur is tough, tell us one thing that you've been struggling with lately?

SS: Communicating the one-of-a-kind nature of our products to customers. 

R: What is the biggest misconception about being a sustainable fashion brand?

SS: Perhaps the biggest misconception is what it means to be 'sustainable'. Conceptually, consumers and makers still have a lot to elucidate in the word 'sustainable'. We're hesitant to use the word because it's become somewhat of a catch phrase for marketing purposes. On the other hand, it's very difficult to choose words that best portray our work. We "repurpose" clothing and fabric. Is that the same as being "sustainable"? We're not sure anymore. At the very least, we're trying to be conscious of our process, materials, and products. 

R: Who / what inspires you?

Louise: I look to contemporary art forms and spiritual practice. 
Sarah: I'm currently interested in challenging convention & using creativity to solve practical problems.

R: What's your take on slow fashion and sustainability?

SS: There is so much more that needs to be changed to really be as it claims.  

R: If you could change one thing about the fashion industry, what would that be?

SS: The stratification of levels of access and consumption. In other words, money and/or class can't be the driving factor for both brand & buyers if change is to happen.

R: What's your vision for the brand?

SS: We are in process - as always - open to whatever forwards our sensibilities and our art. 


Browse through more of Silk Denim's collections on their website.


Images courtesy Silk Denim.

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